If I Ran the Circus

( 6 )


Illus. in color. Young Morris McGurk lets his imagination run wild with his circus McGurkus. "Fun for the entire family."—Children's Book Center.

A young boy imagines the fantastic animals and incredible acts he will have for his greatest of all circuses.

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Illus. in color. Young Morris McGurk lets his imagination run wild with his circus McGurkus. "Fun for the entire family."—Children's Book Center.

A young boy imagines the fantastic animals and incredible acts he will have for his greatest of all circuses.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394800806
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/1956
  • Series: Classic Seuss Series
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 52,311
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.34 (w) x 11.32 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

THEODOR SEUSS GEISEL—aka Dr. Seuss—is one of the most beloved children’s book authors of all time. From The Cat in the Hat to Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, his iconic characters, stories, and art style have been a lasting influence on generations of children and adults. The books he wrote and illustrated under the name Dr. Seuss (and others that he wrote but did not illustrate, including some under the pseudonyms Theo. LeSieg and Rosetta Stone) have been translated into thirty languages. Hundreds of millions of copies have found their way into homes and hearts around the world. Dr. Seuss’s long list of awards includes Caldecott Honors for McElligot’s Pool, If I Ran the Zoo, and Bartholomew and the Oobleck, the Pulitzer Prize, and eight honorary doctorates. Works based on his original stories have won three Oscars, three Emmys, three Grammys, and a Peabody.


Now that generations of readers have been reared on The Cat in the Hat and Fox in Socks, it's easy to forget how colorless most children's books were before Dr. Seuss reinvented the genre. When the editorial cartoonist Theodor Seuss Geisel wrote And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street in 1936, the book was turned down by 27 publishers, many of whom said it was "too different." Geisel was about to burn his manuscript when it was rescued and published, under the pen name Dr. Seuss, by a college classmate.

Over the next two decades, Geisel concocted such delightfully loopy tales as The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins and Horton Hears a Who. Most of his books earned excellent reviews, and three received Caldecott Honor Awards. But it was the 1957 publication of The Cat in the Hat that catapulted Geisel to celebrity.

Rudolf Flesch's book Why Johnny Can't Read, along with a related Life magazine article, had recently charged that children's primers were too pallid and bland to inspire an interest in reading. The Cat in the Hat, written with 220 words from a first-grade vocabulary list, "worked like a karate chop on the weary little world of Dick, Jane and Spot," as Ellen Goodman wrote in The Detroit Free Press. With its vivid illustrations, rhyming text and topsy-turvy plot, Geisel's book for beginning readers was anything but bland. It sold nearly a million copies within three years.

Geisel was named president of Beginner Books, a new venture of Random House, where he worked with writers and artists like P.D. Eastman, Michael Frith, Al Perkins, and Roy McKie, some of whom collaborated with him on book projects. For books he wrote but didn't illustrate, Geisel used the pen name Theo LeSieg (LeSieg is Geisel spelled backwards).

As Dr. Seuss, he continued to write bestsellers. Some, like Green Eggs and Ham and the tongue-twisting Fox in Socks, were aimed at beginning readers. Others could be read by older children or read aloud by parents, who were often as captivated as their kids by Geisel's wit and imagination. Geisel's visual style appealed to television and film directors, too: The animator Chuck Jones, who had worked with Geisel on a series of Army training films, brought How the Grinch Stole Christmas! to life as a hugely popular animated TV special in 1966. A live-action movie starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch was released in 2000.

Many Dr. Seuss stories have serious undertones: The Butter Battle Book, for example, parodies the nuclear arms race. But whether he was teaching vocabulary words or values, Geisel never wrote plodding lesson books. All his stories are animated by a lively sense of visual and verbal play. At the time of his death in 1991, his books had sold more than 200 million copies. Bennett Cerf, Geisel's publisher, liked to say that of all the distinguished authors he had worked with, only one was a genius: Dr. Seuss.

Good To Know

The Cat in the Hat was written at the urging of editor William Spaulding, who insisted that a book for first-graders should have no more than 225 words. Later, Bennett Cerf bet Geisel $50 that he couldn't write a book with just 50 words. Geisel won the bet with Green Eggs and Ham, though to his recollection, Cerf never paid him the $50.

Geisel faced another challenge in 1974, when his friend Art Buchwald dared him to write a political book. Geisel picked up a copy of Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! and a pen, crossed out each mention of the name "Marvin K. Mooney," and replaced it with "Richard M. Nixon." Buchwald reprinted the results in his syndicated column. Nine days later, President Nixon announced his resignation.

The American Heritage Dictionary says the word "nerd" first appeared in print in the Dr. Seuss book If I Ran the Zoo: "And then, just to show them, I'll sail to Ka-Troo / And bring back an It-Kutch a Preep and a Proo / A Nerkle a Nerd and a Seersucker, too!" The word "grinch," after the title character in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, is defined in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as a killjoy or spoilsport.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Theodor Seuss Geisel (full name); also: Theo LeSieg, Rosetta Stone
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 2, 1904
    2. Place of Birth:
      Springfield, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Death:
      September 4, 1991
    2. Place of Death:
      La Jolla, California

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    If I Ran The Circus

    I read the story to some preschoolers .and it held their attention. The characters were creative and I was pleased to add it to our choices of story series

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2003

    She giggled through the entire book!

    My 3 year old daughter thinks this book is the funniest thing she's ever heard. I read it to her weeks ago and she's still saying 'Circus McGurkus'! The silly animals and their silly acts were even hard for me to read because I would start to giggle. This was excellent. I was hesitant to get it since it is longer than most of the books I get for her and I thought it was too long to hold her interest. But not so. She and I were both disappointed when it ended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2004

    All Time Favorite Children's Book!

    When I was a little girl my Father would read this book to my brothers and I before bedtime. This book brings back SO many memories and fun times as a family. A MUST have for any child!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2001

    A world of Imagination For all

    I really enjoyed this book because it shows you that no matter what dreams you have, big or small you can acomplish anything. This book can be enjoyed by anyone of any age. you can really picture the characters in the book by Seuss's descriptions. There is a lot of excitement in the story. It shows you how a child thinks. When Morris McGurk thinks that old Sneelock will not mind having this circus behind,and helping out with little odds and ends. I am 17 and I still enjoy this book very much.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2001

    Castles in the Air!

    Young Morris McGurk is a conceptual thinker. He takes a look at the big vacant lot behind Sneelock's Store and sees the potential for the greatest circus ever. In fact, he sees roles for Mr. Sneelock to star and work in Circus McGurkus World's Greatest Show. The book is filled with imaginary Seuss creatures and unusual circus acts, far beyond what you'll ever see at the real thing. The marvelous imaginary story is told in rhyme, aided by being able to make up names for creatures to fit the scheme. The circus will have acrobats, jugglers and clowns from 1033 faraway towns. At first, Mr. Sneelock will sell balloons and pink lemonade (all 500 gallons of it). By the end, he does the greatest circus feat of all time, diving four thousand, six hundred, and ninety-two feet into a fish bowl. 'Don't ask me how he'll manage. That's his job. Not mine.' This last image to me is the most indelible of all the ones in all of the Dr. Seuss books I have read. At boring moments when I can think of nothing else to entertain me, I consider ways that Mr. Sneelock can pull off this trick. (Feel free to e-mail me your solutions.) What I love about the book is the cavalier way that Morris McGurk makes everything so simple. That's the beauty of being young and inexperienced. You don't know what you 'can't' do yet. As such, this book will dazzle and amaze youngsters who have it read to them and read it themselves. Actually, circuses operate on this principle. Those who wish to star in the circus dream up new and more amazing stunts, and audition to get starring roles. The job of the impressario is to simply choose amongst the best. The star has to figure out the illusion or feat. Although many Dr. Seuss books have unusual creatures, the ones in this book are more vivid to me for some reason. The Spotted Atrocious is especially menacing. The idea of a Bolster, Nolster who is a lion-trout combination intrigues me. And who could be more challenging than a Grizzly-Ghastly? As you can see, Dr. Seuss has slipped in a little normal language here into the names, which gives the images power that totally abstract names cannot evoke. As a selling point to Mr. Sneelock in young Morris's mind, I've always loved the final section: 'Why! He'll be a Hero! Of course he won't mind When he finds that he has A big circus behind.' How typical of a child's imagination to totally transform someone's space, work, and world, and then assume that the person will find it all to be to their liking! Another benefit of this book is that many young children find circuses a little scary. Although this circus is filled with fantastic-looking creatures, they are always perfectly well behaved. A parent can use the book to emphasize that the happy result is pretty certain. I can remember worrying as a four-year-old about whether the lions and tigers would get loose in the audience. I suggest that you do a little advance conditioning before a circus visit using this book to help evaporate such potential concerns . . . without providing your youngsters with any ideas they haven't already thought of. After you have enjoyed the book again, think about where your imagination could benefit from becoming less restrained. Where could you make big dreams that others would enjoy? Every great thing in life that benefits us today started as a dream in one person's mind. What's yours? Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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